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Perth County set to launch new transit with stops in Woolwich

A new link will connect transit users in Waterloo Region with destinations in neighbouring Perth County starting Monday.

PC Connect – a partnership between Perth County and the City of Stratford – launches as a pilot project November 16, with routes between St. Marys via Stratford to Kitchener Waterloo, and Listowel and the region. There will be stops in St. Jacobs and Elmira, as well as New Hamburg.

There are plans to add additional stops in the region, including the Kitchener GO Rail station and the University of Waterloo, starting in January.

The service will operate Monday through Saturday.

In the works for the last few years, PC Connect came about after both Perth County and Stratford were successful in applying for community transportation from the provincial government.

“We got a grant as the City of Stratford in equal partnership with St Marys and North Perth to launch three long-distance routes, and Perth County got the same amount of money to have two local routes running within the county to connect everything,” said Stephanie Potter, policy and research associate with the City of Stratford, of how the project came about. “They’re separate grants, but they’re sort of a unified project. We are launching under one brand as five routes, but the county is managing those shorter distances and we’re managing the three long-distance [routes].We have the same service provider, and we are working in close partnership together, so it is one banner umbrella.”

The new service is seen as a boon for both economic activity and tourism between the two counties.

“We’re just really excited to finally have the service on the road, and we think it’s very much needed and wanted in our community, as well as in the outlying area so that they can access our local economies here in Stratford and St Marys…as well as North Perth and Perth County.”

In total Perth County and Stratford each received approximately $1.45-million each to get this project off the ground.

Of the five routes, two – route A and B – that travel through Perth County north and Perth County south will be managed by the county. The remaining three routes – routes 1, 2 and 3 – will be managed by Stratford. It is two of the Stratford run routes that will have stops throughout Waterloo Region.

In Perth County, Maggie Martin, transit project coordinator, says it was evident that something like this was needed to help bridge the transportation gap within the county, while also giving residents more affordable options for transportation.

When the pilot launches, residents who wish to use the service are asked to follow three easy steps. First, they are asked to call 1-888-465-0783 to book their trip. Secondly, they are asked to ensure they receive an email conformation with the details surrounding their trip. Finally, riders are asked to be at their stop five minutes before their bus is expected to arrive with the exact change for the fare, set at $12.

Martin noted aspects of the routes are subject to change as the pilot project rolls out. Plans include the introduction of an app, monthly passes/multiple ride packs and other measures to improve the experience.

The new service was welcomed by Waterloo Region’s director of transit services, Peter Zinck.

“The PC Connect pilot program represents an excellent opportunity to trial a new form of inter-regional transit and better connect our region with other communities in Perth County. Staff we’ve spoken with at the City of Stratford are confident that there’s a strong desire by those in their community to visit the region to shop, see friends and family, and access local services. We’re excited to see how it plays out,” said Zinck.

“I think these new routes offer those who may not drive or are looking for alternative ways to travel throughout southern Ontario the opportunity to visit the region more easily. This should produce economic benefits for local businesses and institutions, and drive ridership to connecting GRT services. The service also offers residents of the region the opportunity to seamlessly connect to Perth’s routes for travel to St. Marys, Stratford, and Listowel.”

Until January 1, PC Connect fares will be reduced by 50 per cent. Pricing and more information is available online.

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